Predicting the Official World Golf Ranking's Top 10 in 5 Years
In the Official World Golf Ranking, as in popular perception, nothing is more important than winning majors. Thus, the agreed-upon standard for determining who the best golfer in the world is involves assigning the most ranking points to a major victory.
It's no surprise, then, that those at the top of the OWGR at present have tasted victory in golf's most significant tournaments, with all other tournaments taking a back seat. Even the next tier beneath majors (FedEx Cup events, the Players Championship, etc.) don't earn golfers nearly as much ranking capital.
It's impossible to predict the future, and the Official World Golf Ranking rarely seems to make perfect sense (owing largely to the shortness of our memories). With this said, let's take a look at one projection for who will occupy the top 10 slots in the OWGR in five years' time.
No. 10: Matteo Manassero
Current Official World Golf Ranking: 58
Career Highlights: Matteo Manassero, 21, has won four times on the European Tour and twice elsewhere. In two years playing part time on the PGA Tour, the young Italian has made 20 of 29 cuts, twice finishing inside the top 10. Manassero is the youngest player ever to make the cut at the Masters.
Why He's Here: Manassero has moved as high as 25th in the Official World Golf Ranking. Since he won the British Amateur in 2009 at age 16 and made the cut at the Open Championship later that year, expectations have been high for the golfer.
His win at the 2013 BMW PGA Championship was another significant step for the young golfer. Once he has status on the PGA Tour, and plays well, he'll accumulate more ranking points as a function of participating in PGA Tour, rather than European Tour, events.
No. 9: Patrick Reed
Current OWGR: 25
Career Highlights: In his two years on tour, Patrick Reed has already accumulated three victories and a total of seven top-10 finishes. Reed has made 35 of 55 cuts thus far in his PGA Tour career. The Augusta State University graduate opened with three consecutive rounds of 63 at the 2014 Humana Challenge.
Why He's Here: In five years, Patrick Reed will be 28. And as a multiple tournament winner, Reed won't be in danger of losing his tour card until 2017-18. Thus he'll have plenty of starts to continue climbing up the OWGR.
Reed's poor showing at the Masters has likely humbled him a bit. After his caddy—his wife, Justine—gives birth to the couple's child and is able to return to her duties, Team Reed will be reunited and a major victory will not be far off.
No. 8: Dustin Johnson
Current OWGR: 13
Career Highlights: Since his first season on the PGA Tour in 2008, Dustin Johnson has won eight events in 149 starts with 41 top-10 finishes. The South Carolina native has won more than $23 million in his career and has recorded top-10 finishes in three of the four major championships.
Why He's Here: In five years, Dustin Johnson will be 34 years old. Given his fitness regimen and natural athleticism, it's no stretch to assume he'll still be at the top of his game in 2019.
Johnson has won at least once on tour since his rookie season, so he's established a measure of longevity. If he continues this, and manages to secure a major victory, Johnson will remain a fixture in the top 10 for years to come.
No. 7: Matt Kuchar
Current OWGR: 5
Career Highlights: Matt Kuchar has won seven times in his career, with three of those triumphs coming in the past two seasons. The Georgia Tech alum has made 208 of 312 cuts as a professional and his best finish in a major came at the Masters in 2012, where he finished tied for third.
Why He's Here: In 2019, Matt Kuchar will be 40, but he only seems to be improving. His recently retooled flat, one-plane swing isn't a motion that he should have any trouble repeating at that age. Kuchar, always a solid player, has found his game following swing changes in recent years and has risen from 23rd in the Official World Golf Ranking last year to fifth.
At the head of the class in the "best player without a major" discussion, Kuchar will almost certainly have racked up a win in one of golf's most significant events.
No. 6: Bubba Watson
Current OWGR: 4
Career Highlights: Winner of this year's Masters tournament, Bubba Watson has won a total of six events on the PGA Tour. He's made 138 of 201 cuts in his career and has raked in more than $23 million.
Why He's Here: When 2019 rolls around, Bubba Watson will be 40. After a general letdown in 2012, Bubba Watson has won twice in 2014 and finished second twice.
Merely maintaining the status quo will keep the long-hitting left-hander in the top 10 of the OWGR going forward. Giving the way he's mastered the Masters, a couple of more green jackets by 2019 isn't outside the realm of possibility.
No. 5: Tiger Woods
Current OWGR: 1
Career Highlights: A few: 14 majors and 79 wins. Nearly $110 million in PGA Tour earnings.
Why He's Here: Tiger Woods fell to No. 23 in the Official World Golf Ranking in 2011. Between 2010 and 2011, Woods played a mere 27 events due to injury, which brings us to the elephant in the room: Woods' unfortunate history of injuries.
Simply, if Woods stays healthy, he will win golf tournaments and likely majors during the next five season. With multiple wins and multiple majors, then, it's impossible to imagine 43-year-old Tiger Woods falling outside the top 10.
No. 4: Jordan Spieth
Current OWGR: 7
Career Highlights: Spieth finished second at the Masters this year in just his first appearance in the tournament, holding up under the pressure of entering the final round with a share of the lead. Although he was ultimately unable to keep pace with Bubba Watson, his Masters performance and his victory at the John Deere Classic last year are the high-water marks of his brief career.
Why He's Here: Jordan Spieth will be just 25 years old in 2019. If his performance at the Masters this year is any indication, he's abundantly ready to win a major championship, having both the skill and the mettle to get the job done.
It wouldn't be surprising if the young golfer won more than one of the 20 majors he'll participate in over the next five years. This fact, coupled with his baseline of stellar play, could see the Texan slide inside the top five of the OWGR.
No. 3: Jason Day
Current OWGR: 6
Career Highlights: Winner of the 2014 WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, Jason Day has finished inside the top 10 32 times in his career in just 140 starts. Day has finished second at the Masters in 2011 and second or tied for second twice at the U.S. Open.
Why He's Here: Jason Day will turn 31 in 2019 and will thus still be well within the prime of his career. Struggling with injury this year, Day has a win and a second-place finish in just four starts this year and seems primed to continue winning and ready for a major victory at either the U.S. Open or the Masters.
No. 2: Rory McIlroy
Current OWGR: 11
Career Highlights: Rory McIlroy, 24, has already secured two major victories: the 2011 U.S. Open and the 2012 PGA Championship. In addition, the young Ulsterman has won six times on the PGA Tour and five times on the European Tour.
Why He's Here: Rory McIlroy will be 29 in 2019. Although he's moved from inside the top 10 to 11th in the OWGR recently, McIlroy has made six of six cuts this season, with four top-10 finishes, and shows signs of righting the ship after an underwhelming 2013 campaign. The former No. 1 is simply too good to play poorly for long and will surely return to his major winning ways in short order.
No. 1: Adam Scott
Current OWGR: 2
Career Highlights: 2013 Masters champion Adam Scott got the major monkey off his back with his playoff victory over Angel Cabrera in the event. Scott has notched 10 PGA Tour wins in 219 starts and 62 top-10 finishes.
Why He's Here: Five years from now Adam Scott will be 38. Given his fitness, it's not unreasonable to think that the Australian will still be at the height of his powers. Since the beginning of 2013, Scott hasn't been ranked worse than seventh in the OWGR and his winning ways in 2013 bumped him even further up the list.
Assuming he's comfortable using his prodigious talent to win majors after the 2013 Masters victory, and based on his several strong showings in majors since, Scott looks to usurp Tiger Woods at the top of the OWGR soon. He could be poised to hold onto it for a quite a while.